The night sky shimmered like the transporter beam of an unseen starship was attempting to pick us up from a frozen Class M planet. Small crystals of ice fog were suspended in the air just above the ground, catching the light of the full moon and providing us with a blanket of sparkling grace.
Clouds of condensed breath wreathed three furry faces. Two of them sought a place to “do their business” and the third watched in bemusement and joy. The night belonged to us, we were the only beings on the face of the Earth for a short time. The highway was silent, there was no noise from the hockey rink, and no aircraft crossed the deep blue sky overhead.
It was cold, well below zero, and only a warm coat kept the three of us from shivering in the pre-dawn darkness. I stood on the steps waiting for my charges to finish. She finished first and ran up the stairs to get her nose rubbed. A nose so small that it vanished in my hand. A nose shorter than my index finger. I sat on the step beside her and looked at her dark brown eyes.
There was no doubt a sadness in my own eyes that mirrored the hesitation in hers. Both of us had experienced loss in the past few weeks. She’d lost the foster home where she was safe and loved. I’d lost the little dog who made me her hero when she came to live with me all those years ago.
This night the two of us were taking some of the first steps toward building our new relationship. I was working hard not to see my old love when I looked at her, and she was obviously wondering if I’d be around longer than the last man in her life. Both of us had a need to make it work regardless of the pain those first steps might cost us.
She sat down next to me on that top step, in the place where Maisie had blessed me for all those years. I could feel the tension in her small frame. She was as nervous as a teenager on a second date. Not sure of what to expect, hoping that it would all exceed the dreams she wouldn’t even admit to herself.
I was nervous as well. Would this girl ever love me the way the last one had? Would those 10 years be singular in my life, or would God bless me with another love to fill that hole in my heart?
The answer wasn’t yet clear. But for a moment under that night sky she allowed me to stroke her small face with my gloved hands. A tender carress, a seeking of limits, an expression of sought intimacy and love. She yeilded to my touch and lowered her head in pleasure.
And for just a second I felt some of the sadness leave the two of us forever.
Neither one of us will heal completely. Life doesn’t accord us that as far as I know. But we both silently agreed to try this new love and see what we could make out of our lives together.
And that’s a love that seems to be growing every day. Thank you, God, for my girl Stormy.